How to grow potatoes from grocery potatoes
Updated: May 7, 2020
Since I have been trying to build up my indoor vegetable garden, this time, I decided to grow potatoes.
It is a bit challenging because it needs a deeper pot and full sun. But there is always a way to get around these.
For this project, I will use potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) that I got from the shop. I was trying to check and research if the potatoes I got were sprayed with sprout suppression chemical. Thankfully, here in Europe, CIPC (Chlorpropham) was banned earlier this year, but a new inhibitor was used (The more reason to grow our own, don't you think?), DMN (Dimethylnapthalene) which naturally comes from potatoes to inhibit germination and prolong shelf life. CIPC is still used in the US and Canada so, if you are thinking of using grocery potatoes buy an organic potato or a seed potato. Seed potatoes are basically the same potatoes, but they are not sprayed. You can get them from garden nurseries or garden shops.
Chitting a Potato
The first thing I did was to set aside a potato and keep it in a dry area with natural light for maybe a week or more. (I kept mine inside the cupboard and it still grew.) I stood it up with the rounded side up. This blunt edge is where you’ll see a couple of ‘eyes’ or indentations. This procedure is called ‘chitting‘ a potato, which means encouraging them to sprout. This could be done anytime when you are growing indoors but outdoors would be different. They chit the potatoes for about 6 weeks before intended planting in early spring.
According to some sources, you can plant the potato once the new growths are about 2cm long, but since I used a baby potato this length would do.
I prepared the growing media and because potatoes prefer a slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5-6.5), I used this growing media. Ericaceous compost can be achieved by using composted grasses, pine needles and farmyard manure. If you have them and they are well-composted, you can used them mixed with garden soil for your potatoes.
If you have an old pail, use it, but I don’t have one and since I am growing it in a small space, I will use this pot.
Remember, whatever you chose as your container, be sure to put holes for drainage.
Fill the pot with the growing media (just 2 to 3 inches) but make sure that they are loose and not compacted. Put the potato in the middle with the sprouts up.
Cover with the rest of the mixed soil, about 2-3 inches and do not over firm it. Keep it loose to make it easier for the new shoots to emerge.
Water the pot and put it on an area with a lot of sun.
After 6 days
I was so surprised that just after 5days, I am already seeing sprouts and roots are crawling out. Maybe the pot is to small, but I do not have any other pots available at the moment.
So what I did was, I added more soil on top then watered it and this was the result today.
That baby potato is surprisingly vigorous.
But that is a good news, hopefully it tastes good as well.
Maintenance and Harvesting
This is my potato plant now on its third week. It has grown so much and I noticed that the lower stems are turning brown. I just realized that it is time to mound it up. I put more soil at the base of the plant and I am planning to add more in the next days. I am planning to mound it up to 12 inches using potting soil.
Mounding is important because it protects the developing potatoes from sun exposure that can cause them to turn green and bitter. The potatoes are "tubers" meaning they develop from the lower stems and the leaf nodes are the ones that turn into the potato 'eyes'.
This has been my 3rd pot and really, you don't want to be repotting your plants every two days, so plant your sprouting potato in a very deep pot because that is what they need. (This is a 12 inch pot.)
Keep topping up the soil until the leaves are brownish in colour or when it withers. This means the potato is ready for harvest which could take up to 5 - 6 weeks. The skin of your mature potato should be thick and does not come off when you rub, if it does, keep it in the soil longer.
I will observe mine and I will update this blog. If you want to learn how to grow onions from grocery onions, check my previous blog by clicking the link.
Also, my website have just been recently chosen as one of the Top 20 Greenhouse Blogs for 2020 by Feedspot. Check the link and see the list, you might find more ideas of how to live in a more sustainable way.